Do you need an LRS if your company already has a data lake?
June 9, 2021
Many of the organizations that Learning Pool works with around the concept and implementation of better learning data have lots of data tools and platforms already in use. Most have Business Intelligence tools like Tableau. Many have one or more data lakes – large scale repositories for all of the data that is collected throughout the company. So, when it comes to the L&D team turning up with a request for yet another piece of software, the natural pushback from IT is often, “why do we need an LRS as well”?
It’s a good question, so here are our top 3 reasons why you would still deploy a Learning Record Store, even if you already have a bunch of existing data technology in the company…
Collecting clean and well-structured data
One of the worst jobs you can find yourself on the receiving end of is a seemingly simple request that turns into a monster task for no other reason than bad data. You know what it’s like; your boss or stakeholder makes a simple, seemingly throwaway remark about how it would be great to know what the completion rate from the HR team is like compared with the sales team. No problem you say, we’ve got that. But then, you go to look at the actual data. And it’s a mess. Turns out completions aren’t measured the same everywhere. And it’s not clear who completed something once, versus who has done it 10 times. And you’re pretty sure you should be on this list… but you’re not… so does that mean data is missing?
The primary role of a Learning Record Store is the validation of data. That’s this exact problem. By adopting an actual specification for how you will go about collecting data (in the form of xAPI and xAPI Profiles) and using an LRS to validate that data on the way in, we avoid the pitfalls of lots of useless, unclean data.
IT will tell you that they can write validation rules in and around the data lake. I bet they can. But are they going to have the time or the energy to unpick all this for you? And are they going to store the data first and then try and cleanse it later? What if they can’t?
It’s easier to use an LRS like Learning Pool Learning Record Store to do this for you in the first place and only store data in the format you need. That same and useful data can then be sent on to your IT teams enterprise data lake if that is your ultimate source of record.
New forms of learning content
As Learning Experiences expand into new hardware mediums such as Virtual Reality, the LRS presents a way to track not just the clicks around a more traditional piece of elearning, but also a simulated environment.
With the first point still ringing in our ears, it’s worth reminding that an LRS isn’t just a database for storing activity data. An LRS offers specific functions that are needed when it comes to launching, playing and re-launching learning content, including in newer forms like AR and VR. All of those things you take for granted in SCORM – picking up where you left off for example, plus a whole host of things SCORM doesn’t do (keeping a record of ad-hoc data, like leaderboards, for example), can also be taken care of by your LRS. Where SCORM has limitations in terms of granularity of tracking, user experience and mobile access, xAPI is well suited to launching and tracking modern learning content. Nearly all of the most modern authoring tools make this something close to ‘plug and play’ using the xAPI and an LRS.
Building a flexible ecosystem
When we’ve researched organizations maturity, when it comes to their ability to exploit learning data for organizational benefit, we’ve found that those organizations who have adopted a standard approach to collecting learning data, such as xAPI, are consistently ahead of their peers in the maturity stakes.
Whilst you might not have AR or VR on your buy list for next year, you are bound to come across many new innovations in the next 12 months that might make the shortlist. Finding the right software is almost the easy bit; making it work with the systems you already have is somewhat harder.
Data forms a big part of these integrations. If you can’t get data flowing between systems, collecting accurate and useful learning activity data, you will be hard pushed to build the business case for renewal. If your new tools can’t bring data to you, you’ll have to go to them. You will be faced with transforming that data into something usable, transportable and queryable. It will be difficult without a standard method and approach. xAPI and the LRS have done this work for you.
LRS’s plug and play to each other and to a whole range of eLearning activity sources, which makes integration easier. LMS’s are generally a nightmare around this. Taking data from one to the next is a mammoth undertaking. And whilst other standards do exist for making tools work together (such as LTI, for example), they don’t often allow for a single source of record – your data will stay siloed in the tools, not in a central repository. And that takes us back to point 1… how will you run the reports you need to demonstrate the value you know you’ve created?
A well designed and deployed LRS won’t upset the balance of the tech ecosystem in your organization; it will bring better quality data into the heart of the company’s intelligence. And many of the LRS’s we deploy go on to work alongside existing tools, feeding high-quality data into data lakes and giving useful structures that can readily be queried by BI tools.
But wait, there’s more…
Beyond the benefits of just deploying an LRS, you can also reap the benefits of working with the experts at Learning Pool and our wider ecosystem of tools. So here are three exclusive ways in which partnering with Learning Pool will help you go further than the company data lake alone:
When you sign up for Stream Data Cloud you don’t just get access to the software, you get access to our people. Or more specifically, a Technical Solutions Architect whose mission is to help you seamlessly integrate your LRS into your ecosystem. They will work with you over the implementation phase of your contract to ensure that data flows in a meaningful and seamless way, taking the hassle and stress out of making it all work together. We become an extension of your team.
Quite often L&D doesn’t get to play with specialist Business Intelligence tools that exist in the organization – the keys to BI licenses are held elsewhere. Whilst we can work together to integrate with these tools for the benefit of the organization, it doesn’t always work for L&D to do this. That’s where Insights comes in. Insights are our very own BI integration for Learning Locker, and it includes designer and viewer licenses for one of the most powerful BI tools available in the market today; Sisense. Completely integrated with Learning Locker and with our team on hand to back you up, Sisense brings the power of predictive analytics to your fingertips.
Storage and reporting are the most basic phase of Learning Analytics Maturity. What most people really want to move on to is actively influencing the learning process – making our learners more successful. This is where Stream Automation steps in. Stream Automation is a powerful workflow automation tool that has the capability to trigger other systems and user notifications based on data. It integrates deeply with Stream Data Cloud to use xAPI data as triggers – think of it as ‘If This, Then That’ for your company’s learning.
Sounds interesting? Get in touch today to find out more about getting started with Learning Locker. Not sure if you’re ready? Take the diagnostic to find out what the right next step is for you.
Got a learning problem to solve?
Get in touch to discover how we can help